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Marinated olives are a stunning appetizer or side! Flavored with garlic and lemon, they’re a great finger food for cheese boards or parties.

Marinated olives
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Here’s a favorite party trick of ours that makes a tasty and healthy appetizer in just 5 minutes of hands on time. It’s Marinated Olives! This dish will make an olive lover out of anyone. Using the right olives here results in smooth, rich flavor: not briny or overly salty. The garlic, lemon and herbs make a symphony of flavor!

Every time we make these and set them out on the table, people go crazy for them! They’re also great for an appetizer dinner at home: bread, cheese, marinated olives and wine. Here are a few tricks to making the tastiest homemade marinated olives you’ll find (in our humble opinion).

The secret: use olives packed in water!

Here’s our secret to these marinated olives. Use ripe olives packed in water. They have a rich and buttery flavor, nothing like a martini olive. These olives aren’t packed in brine, they’re simply packed in salt water. It makes for a clean, straightforward flavor: not too tangy, briny or salty. Exactly what kind of olives are we talking about?

  • Use medium to large ripe olives that are pitted. Here’s a list of olives to buy for marinated olives: we like the Lindsay brand that you see listed. Look on the package to see if it says “packed in water” or if the ingredients specify. Castelvetrano olives are another great option.
  • Use a mix of green and black. This makes a great color contrast.
  • Avoid stuffed or flavored olives. You don’t want any competing flavors here.
Marinated olives

Flavors for marinading

You can use lots of different flavors for making marinaded olives. Here’s what we used, and some other options you can swap instead:

  • Lemon: Use the lemon rind and lemon juice. Variation: Use orange instead.
  • Garlic: Slice the garlic to infuse big flavors (no need to mince!). Do not omit.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil infuses the flavor perfectly.
  • Fresh herbs: Rosemary and tarragon are our favorites. Variation: Use thyme or oregano.
How to make marinated olives

How to make marinated olives: basic steps

Want to make marinated olives? The hands on part is fast: it takes just about 5 minutes. The longest lead time item is the marinading. Make sure you set aside 2 to 4 hours for the marinading process. Here’s what to know:

  • Place all the ingredients in a large jar or container. We like using a large mason jar. Cover the top and shake to get everything coated.
  • Leave at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours. The wait time locks in the flavors.

Refrigerate for several weeks

Once your marinaded olives are ready, you can save them for a few weeks. Leave them in the jar and refrigerate. But here’s a tip: the olive oil will solidify when it is chilled. So make sure to bring the olives to room temperature before serving.

Marinated olives

Ways to serve marinaded olives

Now for the fun part: ways to serve them! These marinaded olives are very versatile. They’re an easy side dish for a Mediterranean-style meal (like Italian or Spanish), or perfect for a gluten free appetizer spread. Here’s how we like to serve them:

More olive recipes

There are so many types of olives and ways to incorporate them into recipes! Here are some of our favorite olive recipes:

  • Kalamata Olive Spread or Tapenade: Want to up your sandwich game? This Kalamata olive spread (also called tapenade), is used in Italian cuisine to add big flavor to crostini and sandwiches.
  • Pasta Puttanesca: This classic Italian pasta recipe features garlic, capers and olives in the sauce to give it a tangy burst of flavor.
  • Olive Salad: This tangy condiment is perfect for sandwiches and as a dip.

This marinaded olives recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Marinated olives

Classic Marinated Olives

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes hands on, 2 hours hands off
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x


Marinated olives are a stunning appetizer or side! Flavored with garlic and lemon, they’re a great finger food for cheese boards or parties.


  • 2 6-ounce dry weight cans pitted ripe olives packed in water (green, Castelvetrano, medium black, or large black, not flavored or stuffed)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 rosemary or tarragon sprigs, plus additional for serving if desired


  1. Drain the olives. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Cut 4 strips from the lemon peel, then squeeze out 1 tablespoon of the juice.
  2. In a 1 quart jar or covered container, combine all ingredients and shake gently to combine.
  3. Marinate for 2 to 4 hours at room temperature, shaking occasionally. Serve immediately, garnishing with additional rosemary sprigs if desired. Stores refrigerated for several weeks; allow to come to room temperature prior to serving.
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Marinated
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

More vegan appetizers

These marinaded olives are a fantastic plant based appetizer. Here are a few more vegan appetizer recipes we love:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Jamie G says:

    These are incredible! I bought a large jar of Castelvetrano olives and was looking for something interesting to do with them. I can’t wait to share them with others.